Sushiri by G Jayaprakash - For Guinness, this is not the smallest yet
M. Harish Govind for THE HINDU
The musician G. Jayaprakash is annoyed at the Guinness Book of Records refusing to accept his innovative `sushiri' as the smallest musical instrument. The musician G. Jayaprakash is annoyed at the Guinness Book of Records refusing to accept his innovative `sushiri' as the smallest musical instrument.
SMALL IS MUSICAL: G. Jayaprakash plays on the tiny wind instrument, `sushiri'. Photo: C. Ratheesh Kumar for THE HINDU.
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The efforts of a city-based musician, G. Jayaprakash, to get into the Guinness Book of Records for developing the smallest musical instrument have come to nought, with the global organisation refusing to alter the existing record being held by a nano-technology device developed by US scientists in the laboratory.
Jayaprakash's instrument, `sushiri,' is a chip of sandalwood 4.5 cm long, 1.5 cm wide, one mm thick and weighing just half a gram. The chip has four rows of minute holes on it, and when held close to the lips and played with fingers, it produces notes similar to those of a saxophone or a flute.
In response to Jayaprakash's application, Guinness wrote to say that his achievement does not better the existing record held by the nano-scale guitar developed by scientists at Cornell University, USA. The silicon `nano-guitar' is only as big as a single red-blood cell; it is `played' in a vacuum chamber, using a laser in place of a guitar-pick.
When a laser hits a string, the heat makes it vibrate at frequencies a thousand times higher than what the human ear can pick up. However, scientists say that they can detect the vibrations and electronically scale them down to audible tones. Interestingly, the device was developed not to make music, but to try out small devices that vibrate at very high frequencies — to find ways to create cheaper electronics that save energy.
Unfazed by the reply, Jayaprakash wrote back pointing out that his `sushiri' is a conventional wind instrument which produces the same sound frequencies as other such instruments. It can produce notes loud enough to be heard by about 100 persons in a room. Its notes could blend with those of other wind, string and percussion instruments in a concert, he said.
But the Guinness authorities refused to budge. "We are not at present interested in splitting the category into instrument types, and so the smallest guitar as mentioned takes precedence," they wrote back, adding that the decision was final.
Jayaprakash, 44, says that he developed the instrument after 15 years of research.
"I did not expect a prestigious global organisation such as Guinness to be so biased. How can they can call a laboratory device, which cannot be seen or heard, a musical instrument?" he asks.
A self-taught musician, Jayaprakash coaxes classical compositions such as `Om mahaganapathim...,' `Ennathapam cheithane...' and `Jnanappazhathe...' out of the `sushiri' with the finesse of a maestro. He played the instrument at the Soorya Art & Dance Festival held in the State capital in July last. He has now submitted a proposal to the Limca Book of World Records and is awaiting their response.